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Garnbret and Ondra Narrowly Earn Gold at Euro Championships

The sport's leaders climber high onto the podium, but victory was far from assured. Close calls concluded the men's and women's finals

Janja garnbret at European Championships

The European Championships continued today in Munich. This afternoon saw the women’s Boulder final and men’s Lead final conclude with startling results. Not only did Ondra secure his second medal of the Championships, Garnbret earned her second gold. Garnbret’s gold did not come easily. Instead, she only managed to Top two of the four boulders.

Eliska Adamovska at European Championships
Eliska Adamovska by Jan Virt

Women’s Boulder Final

This last year saw the increasing depth of the women’s Boulder field. Athletes such as Germany’s Hannah Meul joined France’s Oriane Bertone, America’s Natalia Grossman, and Japan’s Miho Nonaka at the top of the women’s field. With Garnbret absent from the majority of the 2022 Boulder World Cup circuit, it became difficult to place the increasing ability of the women’s category.

Today, fans saw that Garnbret retained her top position in the Boulder category, at least among competitors in Europe. With that said, Garnbret also showed that she is fallible in this increasingly competitive women’s category. On the first boulder of her final, Meul and Bertone Topped while Garnbret struggled to make Zone.

As Garnbret almost always Tops every boulder she tries, this could have shaken the Slovenian Olympic gold medalist. With that said, Garnbret is the greatest Sport Climbing competitor of all time. As such, falling on W1 did not shake her from the objective. Instead, she persisted.

“Today was tough,” said Garnbret. “I started off pretty badly with the first boulder, not doing it, but I didn’t panic. I just said to myself, ‘look, you have three boulders in front of you, anything can happen’ and I continued to have fun.”

This mental resilience is impressive, but it makes a person wonder what could have happened if Grossman had been allowed to compete.

Meul and Bertone

Germany’s Hannah Meul continues to succeed after an incredible end to her Boulder World Cup season. Although many would have considered the German competitor a Lead specialist in the past, recent silver medals have shown her to be a powerful competitor who approaches Grossman in terms of ability.

Oriane Bertone at European Championships 2022
Oriane Bertone by Jan Virt

Grossman still has more experience at the top end of the Boulder field, but it will be exciting to see how Meul develops in the approaching off-season. She only lost to Garnbret by a Zone and A single attempt.

Bertone also returned to the podium after a tough season of near misses. The French 17-year-old secured silver at the Seoul Boulder World Cup this year, but took time to train during the season, and missed finals and podium in subsequent competitions. Today she returned to the top of the field with an awareness of her position in the field.

Bertone said: “It feels really great to be able to say okay, I’m good enough to win bronze and I feel like I was good enough to win silver. I don’t know if gold would have been doable, but I want to win gold so I’m going to go back to training and keep that in mind.”

Men’s Lead Final

After a Bronze medal in yesterday’s bouldering competition, Ondra returned to the Top of the podium today in Lead. Securing the same score as second place finalist Luka Potoćar, Ondra climbed just into the headwall, falling as he tried to move out of a tense position.

Alberto Ginés López at European Championships 2022
Alberto Ginés López by Dimitris Tosidis

Ondra has trained for and on outdoor sport routes this year but earned his first gold medal of the season at his first Lead World Cup of 2022 in Chamonix. A second gold medal today showed Ondra’s fitness for the remainder of the Lead World Cup series. The Czech climber had the following to say on his performance:

“My son Hugo was born three months ago,” Ondra said after his victory. “Right before climbing in the final, I was thinking about my son and my wife, and I think it gave me like the ultimate power boost just before I started.”

Asked if he was confident of winning gold heading into the final, Ondra laughed and shook his head. “After two days of competition [Boulder and Lead], I still hadn’t recovered because I was destroyed, I was broken,” he said. “The semi-final was a true massacre. I just felt every muscle in my body was aching. But in the final, I saw a route I really liked and I just went for it with no fear. And after that I didn’t make any mistakes, so I am very, very happy.”

Still, Ondra’s greatest competition for the remaining World Cup events could be American Jesse Grupper. Grupper has not yet competed against Ondra in 2022, but the endurance specialist could possibly out-last the world’s best climber.

Potoćar climbed a strong competition and only lost to Ondra by countbacks. Spain’s Alberto Ginés López also had a strong competition securing his first international medal of 2022. Austria’s Jakob Schubert suffered an upset today, falling one hold behind Lopez. He appeared to finish in fourth as a result of flash pump on the steep and pumpy sport route.

Alex Megos at European Championships 2022
Alex Megos by Dimitris Tosidis


Women’s Boulder

1 – Janja Garnbret (SLO)

2 – Hannah Meul (GER)

3 – Oriane Bertone (FRA)

4 – Chloe Caulier (BEL)

5 – Eliska Adamovska (CZE)

6 – Fanny Gibert (FRA

Men’s Lead

1 – Adam Ondra (CZE)

2 – Luka Potoćar (SLO)

3 – Alberto Ginés López (ESP)

4 – Jakob Schubert (AUT)

5 – Alex Megos (GER)

6 – Yannick Flohé (GER)

7 – Domen Skofic (SLO)

8 – Filip Schenk (ITA)

Featured image by Dimitris Tosidis